World Champion Gary Anderson was the latest big-name casualty to depart the World Grand Prix in Dublin, as he was dumped out 3-1 by an inspired Ian White in the last 16 stage.
Anderson hit 12 140’s, 11 180’s and averaged 98, the highest of the tournament so far; yet this simply wasn’t enough against a clinically proficient White.
The 45-year-old from Stoke-on-Trent is now the only remaining Englishman in the tournament; after the likes of Phil Taylor, James Wade and Adrian Lewis all suffered early exits. In tomorrow’s quarter-final, he will take on 2-time major winner Robert Thornton, who whitewashed an off-colour Justin Pipe 3-0 in the opening match of the evening.
White clinched the opening set against Anderson with an excellent 65 finish culminating on D4, after both men had missed doubles earlier in the set. White then secured an instant break of throw in the second set, after a timely 180 had pressured the Scot into squandering three darts at D14.
Nevertheless, Anderson responded superbly, taking out 96 by hitting both D18 and D20, before edging ahead in the set, courtesy of D3. He had a wonderful opportunity to clinch the set, but he contrived to bust 72, handing White a reprieve. However, the World Champion held his nerve in the deciding leg of the set, to restore parity in the contest.
One of the features of this encounter was the unflappable nature of both men. When one player hit a maximum, the other responded in kind on countless occasions. They hit 19 180’s between them, as well as 25 140’s, which just illustrates their consistent, unrelenting scoring power.
The third-set was a tight affair. Both players held throw comfortably in the opening two legs, before White converted 105 to move 2-1 up in legs. The Flying Scotsman demonstrated great composure to take out 76 with the solitary dart at tops, but White forged ahead once again, checking out 58 with Anderson cut adrift on 147, to move one set away from the quarter-finals.
The fourth-set was drama-filled. The World Number 2 had a chance to move 2-0 up in legs, but he missed two darts at D20 and White capitalised. With Anderson poised on 71 to clinch the fourth set and level up the contest once more, ‘The Diamond’ produced a nerveless 76 finish on D20 to force Anderson into holding throw to prolong the contest.
This 76 finish would ultimately prove decisive, as the two-time Premier League Champion missed a further two set darts at D20, handing White the opportunity to take out 60 and reach the quarter-finals. The World Number 8 made no mistake; completing the checkout in two darts to stun the Scot.
Anderson did very little wrong; he missed a few isolated doubles; but his 98 average is mightily impressive in the double-start format, and his overall checkout rate of 38% is reasonably respectable. However, White was just more clinical in the decisive moments of sets.
The former News of the World finalist will be vying for a place in his first major ranking semi-final tomorrow night against another Scot, in the shape of ‘The Thorn’. The World Number 7 eased past Justin Pipe, although he was far from his best, averaging just 84.
The first set was a particularly scrappy affair; both men struggled on the starting doubles, whilst their scoring was somewhat erratic.
Thornton upped the ante in the latter stages of the second set, extending his advantage through two successive ton-plus checkouts of 127 and 120. Justin was struggling to hit his usually dependable D16 with any sort of regularity, so he opted for D20, D13 and even the bullseye in set three.
He continued to battle away, but Thornton was beginning to gain confidence and won the third and final set three legs to one. He’ll certainly have to improve against White tomorrow, but the former UK Open winner showed what he’s capable of in round one against Gurney, where he posted a superb 97 average.
Elsewhere, Mensur Suljovic’s fantastic 2015 continued, as he whitewashed Simon Whitlock 3-0 to continue his impeccable record of reaching at least the quarter-finals in all three ranking majors this year. Only Michael van Gerwen can boast such consistency, which proves just how well the Austrian is performing at present.
Suljovic claimed the opening set with a clinical 98 finish, culminating on his ever-reliable D14. The second set appeared to be heading in favour of the Wizard, but sat on 212, the enigmatic Austrian hit a stunning 180, before converting D16, to double his lead.
Whitlock has endured a torrid time in major tournaments over the past 18 months and although he wasn’t playing poorly, he was lacking conviction, which Suljovic capitalised on with great effect. As Whitlock was sat on D20, poised to break in the opening leg of set three, Mensur delivered a major blow to the Australian with a classy 112 checkout.
He doubled his lead in the set with a clinical 82 finish, before sealing his quarter-final spot with another flawless attempt on D14. His D14 hitting was absolutely extraordinary and if he can maintain this consistency on the doubles, he has a fantastic chance of progressing even further.
Suljovic may not be the most highly fancied name, but he’s no longer an underdog. He’s a genuine contender for major titles. Like White, Suljovic has never reached a major ranking semi-final, and he will attempt to overcome that obstacle against Phil Taylor’s conqueror Vincent van der Voort tomorrow.
The Dutchman dismantled Terry Jenkins 3-0 in a bizarre contest. The Raging Bull was way below par in the opening set, with the Dutchman failing to drop a leg, despite averaging poultry 75. Inconsistency was plaguing Jenkins game. He was failing to hit D20 with any semblance of conviction and his constant drifting into the 1 segment was becoming a prevalent concern.
However, he enjoyed his best leg of the match in the deciding leg of the second set, as he left himself on 101 after 9 darts on van der Voort’s throw. Unfortunately for the Herefordshire ace, he didn’t even get a chance to convert it, as the Dutch Destroyer delivered a stunning 149 checkout to clinch the set. Despite this, Jenkins could have no real complaints, as he was averaging a meagre 69.9.
The 39-year-old Dutchman was 2-0 up in legs in the third set and appeared on the cusp of victory, until Jenkins began to relax and throw with greater fluency. The 52-year-old took out 101 to take the set into another last-leg decider, yet this time, he had the advantage of throw.
He put himself in a dominant position to secure the set, but missed two set darts, after his first dart at D20 landed in the single 5. This simply epitomised Jenkins’ nightmare evening and van der Voort grabbed his opportunity, taking out 96 to secure victory and provoke celebrations of relief.
The bottom-half of the draw has been completely blown apart with the shock exits of Taylor, Anderson and Wade, but this gives others the opportunity to demonstrate that they’re capable of challenging for major honours. Michael van Gerwen is unquestionably hot favourite to regain his Grand Prix crown, but on the basis of this week, expect the unexpected!
World Grand Prix-Last 16 Results
Robert Thornton 3-0 Justin Pipe
Mensur Suljovic 3-0 Simon Whitlock
Vincent van der Voort 3-0 Terry Jenkins
Gary Anderson 1-3 Ian White
Ian White v Robert Thornton
Mensur Suljovic v Vincent van der Voort
Michael van Gerwen v Jamie Lewis
Jelle Klaasen v Mark Webster